Written by Joe Watson. Media by Max Gensler [divide]
More than likely you have heard about Kim Davis, and have likely made an opinion about her actions by now. To be honest, it isn’t easy to take a stance on the issue. Christians will likely find themselves conflicted as to whether they should side with Kim Davis on her decision to not give out marriage licenses to anyone as she looked for an acceptable alternative. My honest opinion is that she was right to stand for what she believes, but her methodology of resisting gay marriage was not desirable. Many who may think of her as a hero may be upset with my belief that she should have given up her job, while those who think of her as a tyrant may find themselves at odds with my approval of her intentions. The thing is, quite often, that we don’t have our heads on straight. Often, we aren’t truly thinking like Christians when it comes to these issues. I will be first to admit this fault. I have had trouble myself, deciding what to think of this situation, and how we should think as Christians who live under a God-placed governmental authority.
Now, in order to better understand my opinions as an author, I will be upfront and confess my convictions about gay marriage. Through my reading of scripture, I see God’s designation of marriage as a complementary relationship between a man and a woman, which means I believe God doesn’t see what might be called marriage between two men or two women as beneficial to either of the individuals in the union, and therefore neither will I. Does this mean I hate those who claim to be homosexual? No. The point is this: in loving people, it is better to guide towards what I believe is good and true. If I claim to know the truth about the world, it would be unloving to allow sin to take place in an individual’s life with my consent. Now something I think should be obvious about this whole situation is the reality that no one should ever have to go against their own conscious. Here’s a quick thought experiment that I think will help us agree: Imagine yourself as a police officer in the 1960’s. During this time, you clearly tell others that you believe in the civil rights movement. Now imagine you are handed a pair of handcuffs to arrest a peaceful civil rights protester. Still think holding up your oath as a police officer is worth it now?
A Kingdom of Sacrifice
Kim Davis’s intentions were good, and I don’t think she should have to break her conscience. Well, what then am I suggesting she should have done? I think we should look to the Bible to find reliable models of love in the form of self-sacrifice as Jesus would ask of us. Which made me think of the Widow Mark 12:41-44 who sacrificed what she had even though it was a little. I am also lead to think of when Jesus says “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Mark 6:3-4 ESV).
Jesus here is obviously talking about how we should give to the needy and how we can best give. But does it not also an instruction of self-sacrifice? Does it show us that self-sacrifice is something that happens primarily in the shadows? We are to let our lights shine before all men so they can see Christ. But how does one sacrifice in the limelight compare to hundreds in the dark where your light will be brightest? Perhaps our sacrifice is meant not for the sake of our pride, but to reveal the love of a God who would sacrifice himself.
I think that for those of us who are looking to change our culture for the good of the Kingdom should start to think in different terms when it comes to impacting culture for change. Will laws really make people behave the way that God wants them to? Of course not. That is what the Old testament taught us — that we need the Holy Spirit to understand our shortcomings. Rather, we should look to change the culture through self-sacrifice that is silent, and communities that shout about the amazing and loving God we serve. The point is that much labor has been in condemning gay marriage as an institutional and legal action, but not in creating communities that are willing to love people by hating all sin: communities that are against unwarranted divorces, porn, sex before marriage, and whatever else that the church doesn’t seem to care about much anymore. Perhaps we have lost sight of what is the root of sin, which is seeking after something we think is more worthwhile than God.
Living Under The Kingdom.
Now the most cited chapter about Christians being in submission to government authorities is Romans 13. The thing I think that can be easily overlooked is that Paul’s intention when writing about being in submission to the government is that they are doing good. Therefore, I think that we ought to think of obeying the authorities that are over us in these terms. When they are working for what the Christians understand as good, we should be in submission, and when they are wrong and participating in injustice we should push back. The truth is that our true authority is Jesus, and the Church, which is the kingdom that has come to the earth.
The appeal I have for you then is that we should look to change our cultures through kingdom ethics and theology that God has given us for our relationship with the world. If we think that the only way to change our culture is by way of law and forcing righteousness on others, then we have not thought in terms of the Kingdom of God that was begun by Christ. Our sacrifices may have to be great when it comes to changing our culture’s status quo. We might even have to resign from our elected positions, and seek different means of living. It seems to me that we have not asked ourselves the real question that comes with self-sacrifice: Do we trust God to sustain the Church whether or not we are accepted by the wider culture, and whether or not we would suffer for the sake of truly loving that culture? We should be looking to change the hearts and minds of the culture by way of self-sacrifice and love.
Also, check out Roman’s article about Kim Davis.